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The Spurs

Go, Boy, Go! – 2000 (Spinout)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by The Spurs

The Spurs are essentially a part-time band; most members also play in other outfits. But these Bay State boys must have been spending a lot of time at some intersection where Western Swing Avenue and Honky-Tonk Street cross because they do as good a rendition of that Hank Thompson mix as you could ask for.

From the get-go, The Spurs take the advice of their title track and play with a driving intensity straight out of the Merrill Moore/Billy Jack Wills school. Their cover choices are swell: besides Carl Smith's old hit "Go, Boy, Go!", Ferlin Huskey's "Slow Down Brother" is given a low-slung groove, obscure Sun artist Melvin Yelvington's tune "Yackety Yak" is rescued, and there's a fine take on Paul Howard's "Drinkin' My Troubles Away." The band's originals stand their ground, too, particularly "So I Can Picture You" and a pair of honky-tonkers, "Stop and Let Me Drink About It" and "Alcohol of Fame." Throw in the standard handful of instrumentals, highlighted by a fine, westernized treatment of the Stuff Smith tune"Hillcrest," and the upshot is 17 tunes rendered with tight, sweet playing: Frankie Blandino's pedal and straight steel, his interplay with Jerry Miller's jazzy picking, Rich Dubois's weaving fiddle lines, and most of all, Allen Sheinfeld's rich baritone which - not often, but just often enough - drops down to a slight, resonating rumble.

There's been a slew of strong contemporary western swing releases lately; this one may be the best of 'em all. (615-332-0722)